Christopher Bell wasn’t much of a factor early in Saturday’s race. But, that’s because they were working strategy. Bell, started 36th in his No. 95 Toyota in Saturday’s Pocono Organics 325. So, they decided to move their way forward in the first stage, but also elected to pit towards the end of it to earn better track position as several other cars would have to pit for fuel following the end of Stage 1.
It helped him rise up to 11th in Stage 2. Then, in the final stage, there he was battling inside of the top 10. Bell, had a great final pit sequence in taking two tires and was there mixing it up with Toyota pals Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch.
“Whenever I started working with Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) two years ago in the Xfinity Series, well even before that, I started following him and I knew he was really aggressive on strategy to get his driver up front,” Bell said on strategy trust with his crew chief. “Seems like the majority of the race tracks that we’ve been to the last couple weeks have just been, put four tires on and go, but Pocono is definitely a place where you can mix up strategy, pit early, pit before the stages and so forth. Obviously, Jason did a great job and got us up front and we had the car speed to stay up there.”
Bell, ended up getting by both Busch and Truex and would finish a career best fourth in just his 10th race of his rookie campaign.
“Yeah, it was a great day,” Bell said. “I was really happy with our Rheem Camry. It took me a little bit to get up to speed with obviously not having practice in my first race in a Cup car here, but by the end I was really happy with the car. Everyone did a great job here on this 95 group; we executed and ended up upfront.”
Now, he gets to start 17th on Sunday, but that’s vastly better than 36th on Saturday. He can be a contender again.
“I’m looking forward to see if we can build on it. I think all of our cars are really good. We are close to winning, so hopefully we can continue to get better and see if we can move up a little further tomorrow.
“We seemed to be really fast in turn one, that’s kind of where I could make all my moves at. Just have to work on turn three a little bit and see how tomorrow goes.”